The Leadership Team

My name is Katrina Burlet. I am an alum of Wheaton College where I learned how to debate and first became a coach.  I have been coaching debate at the high school and college level for the last four years and I could not be more delighted about the opportunity to bring the skills, training and knowledge that debate affords to those behind bars.


As a debater, I competed in NPDA and BP. Before I started doing this work, I didn’t think it was possible to love your job this much.

Director and Founder

My name is Jon Sahlman. I am currently pursing my PhD in Communication at LSU. I am an alum of Western Kentucky University, where I also coached debate. My current research focuses on various forms of inequalities in the criminal justice system. As a competitor I did many formats of debate including NPDA, and NFA-LD. My senior year I won the NFA-LD national championship; closing out the final round with fellow teammates from Western Kentucky. Originally I am from Modesto, California and am a proud Modesto Junior College alum.


I am proud to say I remember when JDL first got off the ground. Being the Assistant Director here has been a wonderful experience. Working with these students and watching them understand the power of their voice is why I continue to be involved.

Assistant Director

My name is James Baugh, and I am currently pursuing my PhD in Sociology at the University of Illinois.  Formerly, I worked as a graduate assistant debate coach at Western Kentucky University while I completed my Master’s Degree. I competed for Western in both IE’s and LD debate for two years, and did two years of those events plus Parli debate at Modesto Junior College in California before that.


With the JDL, I serve as the coordinator for social media and general outreach, ensuring this great cause reaches as many people with as much impact as possible.

Marketing and Social Media Outreach Coordinator

My name is Fedhii Gobena. I also graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in Political Science. I currently work as a Business Consultant in Chicago, IL in addition to serving on the board of the Justice Debate League. I got involved in the organization originally through Katrina, who would share stories of the wonderful things happening in the lives of the kids at these prisons. After beginning to visit one of the prisons we go into regularly, I’ve personally fallen in love with the kids we’ve been working with as well. I love the authenticity they always exhibit, and they’ve personally become a highlight of my week. And I love that I get to work for an organization that is striving to empower and  restore the dignity of these kids and others like them.

Board Member and Assistant Coach

© 2019  

The Justice Debate League is a 501(c)3 public charity.

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